At least three articles in the Portland Press Herald on May 14 struck a note for me.

Have we in the so-called developed world become so enamored of “freedom” that we, as a group, use this abstract noun as a slogan, impulsively propelling us to act just as we please, without regard for consequences to ourselves, to others and to our societies and institutions?

Articles on Page A10 about the overconsumption of alcoholic beverages (“Prosperous nations prone to bingeing”); blindness to obesity in our families (“Survey: Parents perceive their overweight kids as ‘just right’ “); and corrupt purchasing – i.e.: illegal buying and money waste in the Veterans Affairs system (“Official: VA spends billions in violation of contract rules”) are the three that pushed me to write this.

There are still others, just in the same day’s paper, that also feature blithe disregard of both moral and legal limits.

While I know that lumping many things under the motivation of “I can do as I damn please” is a stretch, I think of John Milton’s line in one of his essays, “It is license they mean when they cry liberty.”

Jonathan S. Malev, M.D.


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